Category Archives: news

When Pandilleros Attend Mass and Other Life Lessons

I went to ElSalvador.com to check out photos of El Salvador’s momentous win last night against the U.S., but as is my habit, I became distracted by something else.

A still image in the sidebar of a tattooed marero (gang member), taking communion, made me pause. The story title: Pandilleros piden una oportunidad. I clicked through to the video and found it too moving not to share.

I don’t consider myself religious, but something about this video touched me. Looking at those faces, behind the tattoos, I see young men who were once little boys, and for whatever reason, they made mistakes that led them to where they are. Many of them come from poverty or abusive homes. Neglected by parents or orphaned by war, they sought to “belong” and that is a big attraction to gang life – it’s the family one never had.

“Siempre han dicho que nosotros somos la escoria y lo peor del mundo. Nosotros crecimos en un época de conflicto y en ese época tapamos nuestros valores con cosas negativas, pero estamos dispuestos a cambiar, si nos ayudan.” – source

["They've always said that we're the scum and the worst of the world. We grew up in an era of conflict and in that time we covered our values ​​with negative things, but we are willing to change, if you help us."]

“Nosotros estamos de buena fe, queremos seguir adelantes. Estamos consciente de que les hemos fallado a Dios, y a la sociedad, y aquí en nombre de toda mi pandilla, la MS13, quiero pedirle perdón, a la sociedad, y que nos dé una oportunidad de poder cambiar… nosotros también somos salvadoreños, nosotros también somos seres humanos.” – source: MS13 gang member in the video

["We are of good faith, we want to move on. We are aware that we have failed God, and society, and here, on behalf of my gang, MS13, I apologize, I want to ask for forgiveness, from society, and ask that you give us an opportunity to change ... we too are Salvadorans, we too are human beings."]

What would happen if we always believed the best about others, rather than the worst?…Maybe people live up to expectations.

Image source: Both images are screen captures from the video by ElSalvador.com
More images worth seeing: Informador.com

Muchas Gracias to my Blogalicious Sponsors!

This weekend I will be reporting from Blogalicious – a conference “aimed at celebrating the diversity of women of all ethnicities in social media.”

The conference is being held about 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. this year, so I knew I had to go. Despite its proximity, there are still expenses associated with going to a conference, so I’m thankful to the sponsors who stepped up to support Latinaish.com in attending Blogalicious 2011.

It’s especially awesome when those that offer to sponsor you are brands you’re proud to represent. Here’s a little bit about each of them.

Chí Chí & Flaco – is “a modern t-shirt line savoring the flavor of Latino and Hispanic culture in the United States.” (If you have Cuban roots, you’ll especially want to check them out.)

New Latina – is an online magazine, (which I’m very proud to contribute to), that celebrates and redefines Latina women while providing a supportive community.

Kellogg’s – Ya sabes! You probably have a box of their cereal in the cabinet right now. I do, except it’s empty. (Why do the kids do that?)

And look what I discovered while grocery shopping this week – Bilingual cereal boxes!

This is the Spanish side of the cereal box. "New Choco Zucaritas" ... the other side is in English and they're called "Frosted Flakes Chocolate."

When I saw the bilingual cereal boxes I was even happier that I agreed to the Kellogg’s sponsorship, but the truth is, Kellogg’s has had a long history with the Latino community.

I still remember when Carlos and I first married and he wanted me to buy “Cornfleis” at the grocery store. I had no clue what he was talking about until he put a box of “Corn Flakes” in our cart. I love that Carlos loves Corn Flakes because that used to be my grandfather’s favorite cereal. Seeing the classic box with the rooster on it in our cabinet gives me some good memories.

Of course, Carlos doesn’t eat it like my grandfather did. He heats up the milk in the bowl and eats it warm. (Is that a Latin American thing?)

Anyway, I’ll have more to share from Kellogg’s especially for la comunidad Latina later via Twitter and right here on Latinaish – so stay tuned! My last sponsor is:

Latina Bloggers Connect – LBC connects brands with Latina bloggers and is another website I’m super proud to contribute to. At Blogalicious I will be part of the #SprintConnects LBC team. Along with Ana Flores, Dariela Cruz, Chantilly Patiño and Rachel Matos, I’ll be sharing photos, updates and tweets from the conference all weekend on Twitter, Facebook and Latina Bloggers Connect. There will be a contest and prizes for those attending Blogalicious – so be sure to check that out!

Excited to reconnect with mis hermanas blogueras and meet new amigas as well. Ojalá we’ll learn and have fun all at the same time. See you there!

Disclosure: All companies mentioned above have sponsored my attendance at the 2011 Blogalicious Conference. This is not a sponsored post or paid advertisement. This blog post conforms to WordPress.com Terms of Service. All opinions are my own.

On This Day, We Are All Mexicans

BY TRACY LÓPEZ
(Originally published on CafeMagazine.com on June 21, 2010 as part of their World Cup coverage.)

In a world divided by borders and intolerance, there are rare moments to be savored which bring people together, and inspire an outpouring of love and unity. Often times it’s a natural disaster like an earthquake, such as the one that shook Haiti earlier this year. Other times we’re brought together by a political event, the death of someone loved around the world, or by a religious celebration – but sometimes we are unified by an amazing triumph, such as Mexico’s historic 2-0 win over France.

When East Germany erected a wall, then-President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the Rathaus Schöneberg in 1963 and, declaring his support for a free and united Germany, said “Ich bin ein Berliner” – or in English: “I am a Berliner.” In the shadow of the 9/11 attacks against the United States in 2001, as the entire world stood in disbelief and grief, many countries declared in solidarity, “On this day, we are all Americans.”

And on June 17, 2010, as “El Chicharito” Hernández scored the first goal and led “El Tri” to victory, it felt as if, for a brief moment as we shared in their pride and glory, that on this day, we were all Mexicans. In the words of the English singer Morrissey, “I wish I was born Mexican, but it’s too late for that now.”

From Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, to El Ángel de la Independencia in Mexico City, fans cried tears of joy and sang “Cielito Lindo.” Mexican-Americans, Latinos of all nationalities, (and believe it or not, a few gringos too), couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment, and maybe – just maybe – we shed a tear or two as well as we watched the triumphant band of brothers, their jerseys stuck to their bodies with sweat, embrace each other as the song, “One Day” by Matisyahu echoed over the pitch.

“…All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play
one day…”

-One Day by Matisyahu

Churros, Cantinflas, and Immigration Reform

What in the world do those three topics have in common?

I wrote about them as a new weekly contributor to Fox News Latino. For those who didn’t know, I have been writing op-eds for them in the Lifestyle section for the past three weeks. (For those who didn’t even know a Latino division of Fox News existed, or for those who knew but have remained skeptical about the content – I encourage you to check it out and give it a chance. It is not what most people expect.)

If you missed my first three posts, here are the links:

Essay: Happy 100th Birthday, Cantinflas

The Hidden History of Churros

Opinion: Halt to deportations? Too little, too late

And in the future, check around on Fox News Latino on Thursdays or Fridays. That’s when my posts usually go up.

Thanks for your support, amigos! See you over there!

Win or Lose, a Day to Remember

I’ve now had two days to recover from the Copa Oro games we went to on Sunday, pero todavia estoy completamente rendida.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep, half from excitement and half from anxiety about the tickets. Following the wise advice of a friend, we arrived hours early at the stadium. (Gracias to Rudy, who we actually got to meet briefly at the game.)

We went straight to the “Will Call” window and I gave them my I.D. I watched them shuffle around and come up empty-handed. I watched them check and re-check. I knew this would happen. They apologized that they didn’t have tickets for me under my name. I called the number of the on-site manager that State Farm had given me in case I ran into problems – he assured me he had the tickets on him. When we met him in the parking lot where State Farm had set up, true to his word, he had the tickets. I resisted kissing him and instead let him tell me about some of the fun things they were doing there.

I talked with someone about the sOccket ball and she showed me how it worked. I also got to check out the State Farm iPhone app, Kick4ACause which allows you to donate electricity just by playing the game. [See video of me playing]

As Carlos and I decided what to do next, a mini-Salvadoran pride parade broke out. Of course we joined in.

The parade went around the parking lot making all kinds of noise. At one point we clashed with a group of panameños, but after dancing with them for awhile, the parade continued on, much to the bewilderment of gringos trying to tailgate in peace.

When gringos tried to interact with Salvadorans though, the Salvadoran response always made me smile. When gringos shouted “U.S.A.!” – the Salvadorans didn’t feel threatened – they joined them in chants for the red, white and blue. I wonder if this made an impression on anyone in that parking lot who had expected a different reaction – to realize that it’s possible to have enough love for the place of your birth, language or culture – but feel equally proud of the country you now live in.

After the mini-parade we sought shade and a late [very expensive] lunch inside the stadium. We found our seats and waited.

Salvadorans seemed amused by my "Guanaco Pitbull" shirt, but I didn't realize how confusing it would be for non-Salvadorans, who seemed to puzzle over what it meant.

While waiting, I observed a lot of Salvadorans who came prepared to not only cheer on El Salvador, but the United States as well. Many wore La Selecta T-shirts, but carried American flags. The “U.S.A.!” chant was alive and well in sections full of Salvadorans during the U.S. vs. Jamaica game.

The game itself was great, but the sky was so cloudy that I wasn’t able to access Twitter on my phone which was frustrating.

After the United States won, we were all full of happiness and hope for El Salvador.

Hearing the crowd sing the Himno Nacional de El Salvador made me tear up a little. To look around and know that all these Salvadorans were here together even though many, like Carlos, were far from their homeland… It’s difficult for me to put in words.

Being at the actual game instead of watching it on television is a unique experience. I’ve watched a lot of Salvadoran fútbol games on T.V. but never heard the crowd whistling in unison. Salvadorans have a unique way of whistling, (I wish I had caught it on video), but when you have thousands of people doing this, it sounds sort of like a forest full of parrots.

Speaking of whistling, at one point in the game, a Salvadoran player fell on top of a Panamanian player in a position that looked somewhat compromising. This got some funny responses from the crowd which I won’t repeat, but you definitely don’t get that on T.V. either.

As for the game – La Selecta missed a lot of opportunities on the field, but they did get this penalty shot which was very exciting.

Another highlight for me was seeing a guy run across the field with the Salvadoran flag. I know that’s frowned upon but it amused me, (and he was really fast. Maybe La Selecta should draft him?)

An unidentified man carries an El Salvador flag as he runs on the field during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Panama and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(You can’t see on my video, but you can see in others that the Panamanian goalie threw the U.S. flag out of the goal. That’s what the booing was about at the end of the video.)

El Salvador was ready to win… and then Panama scored a goal in the last minute… at least they say they scored a goal. I’ve watched the replay two dozen times and can’t decide if it was good or not. If only there was video of it from the other side – pero ni modo, what’s done is done. There’s no use being bitter about it.

Okay…maybe a little.

Cover of El Diario de Hoy / Deportes

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the game:

As you see, some guys had a banner that proclaimed Zelaya to be better than Chicharito. While I was there to support La Selecta with all my heart, I’m not so sure I agree. My Pitbull didn’t do much better. The game was full of excitement, tense moments, joy, disappointment – the poor Salvadorans around me went from elated to crushed over and over again. One guy often took his frustration out on the empty stadium seat in front of him. By the end of the game I was kind of surprised he hadn’t managed to rip it out as he repeatedly pounded on it screaming “P*TA! P*TA! P*TA! HIJUEP*TA!”

Carlos was calmer than that though I heard him say a few choice words under his breath after the final penalty shot shoot-out decided our fate.

Win or lose, it was an amazing experience. I know it was particularly special for Carlos. I asked him what it felt like being in the stadium surrounded by so many Salvadorans. He said it reminded him of home and the games he used to go to with his friends. The good thing about Salvadorans is that even though Carlos didn’t have his old friends with him, the guys seated around us were more than willing to fill-in for the day. I know Carlos to be a mostly quiet guy, but when he’s with other salvadoreños he opens up and is actually quite talkative. I love to see him uninhibited like that. [ Read Carlos's post about the day here.]

The game came to an end, but the brotherly love was far from over. On the way out of the stadium I was nearly crushed, (this panicked me for a minute but I knew Carlos would throw people left and right if I were in any danger.) … Then we missed the first Metro train because it was impossible to fit anymore people on it. We waited twenty more minutes for the pleasure of being crushed on the next train. Besides myself, I think there was only one other woman on the train – it was packed with young men wearing blue, and all of us, (myself included), were in serious need of some deodorant after a long day in the sun.

Despite the heat, lack of personal space, exhaustion and loss of the game, the group on the train remained in good spirits.

“Yo soy salvadoreño!” shouted one man still full of pride and warrior spirit, “Soy guerilla!”
A man from the other side of the train answered him back,
“Guerilla mi c*lo!”

(Don’t ask me to translate it to English. Somehow, it’s not as funny like that.)

Disclosure: I attended the Gold Cup games at the invitation of State Farm. All opinions are my own.

El Más Chingón!

Via a press release yesterday, mun2, (Telemundo’s bilingual cable broadcast network aimed at young Latinos) – announced several awesome things – among them, an upcoming show that I’m really excited about. Chécalo!

From the press release:

“El Más Ching*n” [is] a competition reality series set to discover the next big Regional Mexican artist. It’s a talent search with a twist. Selecting contestants through an interactive online campaign, the road to regional stardom is filled with lifestyle challenges that include writing and performing, as well as horseback riding, media pressure tests and other identifiers of regional respect. Judged by celebrity personalities, the contestants will also be documented through behind-the-scenes rehearsals, back-story segments and confessionals, and tensions between the contestants, competing for one prize. Quién es el más chign*n?

I’m envisioning cute chicos vaqueros, some good Regional Mexican music, (and probably some bad Regional Mexican music from those who are NOT el más chingón), maybe some botas picudas… and… espera un momento! … They said “judged by celebrity personalities” … I wonder who? My fingers are crossed for a guest appearance by Espinoza Paz! Vamos a ver!

More about mun2, (because I like them and I identify with the term “culture connectors” that they use):

“…mun2 (moon-dos) is the lifestyle cable network for today’s culture connectors (C2s) – bicultural Latinos 18-34. As the bilingual network that amplifies the Latinos experience, mun2 is culturally-grounded and reflects the best of both worlds – mun2 is uniquely American. From reality to music, on-air to digital, mun2 creates original content across a multi-screen platform. As the only nationally measured bilingual cable network by Nielsen NTI, mun2 has an increased distribution to over 36 million households, and is a part of the Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBCUniversal.”

Latin Billboard Awards + The Red Carpet

I intended to share my trip chronologically but it wouldn’t be nice to make you wait more for the part you really want to hear about – la alfombra roja (red carpet), and the actual Latin Billboard Awards show.

Cuban sandwiches and other randomness, while worthy of sharing with you, are not as exciting as the main event, so here we go. (I’ll tell you about the sandwich más tarde.)

My ticket!

The Red Carpet

We arrived at the red carpet and first we were seated in the bleachers with the fans. After a little while, we were given the option to move to the press area where it would be possible to actually speak with celebrities who chose to stop, with the caveat that we would have to stand for over 2 hours. I didn’t think twice – I wanted to be with the press.

Press area near the red carpet.

(Thanks to CityChicOnline.com for the dress!)

When I got to the press area my hands started to shake. I caught a glimpse of a white cowboy hat and my heart fluttered, thinking it was Espinoza Paz. One of the blogueras who has a lot more experience with these kinds of events, kindly gave me some advice, reminding me that to gain respect I couldn’t freak out.

I think I did pretty well, despite an unintentional gasp here and there – like when Prince Royce gave me a shout-out.

Many celebrities stopped to talk, even shaking hands and giving hugs or a kiss on the cheek. One handsome telenovela actor was so close to me that I could smell the cologne on his skin and it wasn’t like he had put too much on or anything, (can’t remember which actor it was pero qué rico se huele!) I chatted up the cast of the new mun2 show, RPM Miami for a minute or two – but you know my heart was set on finding Espinoza Paz and Pitbull.

Pitbull did walk by, but didn’t stop to chat.

Ay Pitbull! So close, and yet so far away!

And it was cool to meet El Trono de Mexico.

El Trono de Mexico

El Trono de Mexico - botas picudas

I told one of the guys from El Trono, “Me gustan tus botas picudas!” and he smiled.

_________
More photos! (From Gloria Estefan to Marc Anthony and actors from telenovelas like Reina del Sur…

Here are some photos of the celebrities that came into the press area of the red carpet. Some stopped to talk, others just posed for photos. How many musicians and actors do you recognize?

My Flickr Slideshow of Latin Billboard Awards 2011

_________

Espinoza Paz never did pass by the press area – I’m not even sure he walked the red carpet. I felt a little heartbroken. I tried to spot him in the audience but wasn’t sure. At one point, I saw someone in a black cowboy hat come in late. I wonder if it was him?

I spotted Pitbull in his seat.

Pitbull seated at the Latin Billboard Awards 2011 (white jacket)

The stage set-up was super awesome. There were three stages and the one in the middle extended further into the audience. The stage had areas cut out that looked like little pools, where some very lucky fans got to stand. Stages left and right were cube shaped with walls that moved up and down. I loved the colorful lights and the feeling of the bass.

I video taped some of my favorite performances between tweeting:





One song I absolutely love that I neglected to video tape: Me Duele by Roberto Tapia. I loved the couples dancing quebradita during this performance.

The last performance of the evening – Pitbull. I don’t understand how he didn’t win anything. He brought the house down, (the shaky video is evidence of this. I was dancing.)

The last award of the night, “Artist of the Year” – went to Enrique Iglesias. To thank his fans he ran out into the audience. He ran by my section, maybe 20 feet away but I didn’t try to touch his hand. A lot of people were out of their seats and trying to do just that. I like Enrique but not enough to risk falling down stairs or getting crushed. Had it been Espinoza, that’s another story.

Disclosure: I went to the Latin Billboard Awards in Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. All opinions are my own.

Latin Music Legends Stamps

I bought my Latin Music Legends stamps last week.

Now to decide if I have the heart to actually use them. (Selena is my favorite, though Carmen Miranda is a close second.)

Is Gringo offensive?

I use the word “gringa” to describe myself – knowing that some people are uncomfortable with the word. I’ve simply found it to be the best description of who I am. To me, its meaning is a non-native Spanish speaker, (or one who doesn’t speak Spanish at all.) It helps me identify myself as non-Latina, but someone with enough interest in the language and culture to have learned the word and have a sense of humor about it.

Some claim that the word “gringo” has negative connotations due to the way this word entered the lexicon. There is an urban legend that says the Mexican Army told American soldiers to leave the country saying, “Green – GO! [home]” (green for the color of their uniforms.) There is no proof that this is actually true. (Read other etymological possibilities here.)

I don’t like the words “White” or “Caucasian” because of the focus on skin color. I prefer not to use Anglo because it isn’t descriptive enough. I also avoid using “American” or “Americana” – because those from Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America are all “Americans” too. (Some even dislike that the United States has co-opted this word for its citizens, but calling oneself a “United Statesian” is awkward.)

And so this is why I use the word “gringa” and feel that it doesn’t have a bad connotation unless used in certain contexts.

Not everyone agrees with me. Recently columnist Daisy Hernandez, (co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women on Today’s Feminism), used the word “gringo” in what I would consider “appropriate context” – as a result there has been quite a controversy.

Read what happened on NPR, and come back to weigh in. What do you think? Should she have avoided use of the word, or was it appropriate?

Discuss in comments.

(Thanks to Aisha for sending me the link to this news story.)

Lo Mejor de 2010

Here are the most chévere things I discovered in 2010.

Comida:

Bubu Lubus
• Valentina (salsa)
• Chipotle Mayonnaise (via Maura)

Bebidas:

• My go-to drink used to be the Shirley Temple, but after drinking about a dozen virgin Mojitos in Miami, I have a new favorite.

• As for “real” drinks, Tecate & Corona are still numero uno for me.

• My cipote-friendly choice is still horchata (Salvadoran, not Mexican.)

Libros:

• Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
• My Name is Pablo by Aimee Sommerfelt

(Non-Latino Fiction picks):

• Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
• The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
• The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Películas:

• Quinceñera
The Other Side of Immigration (documentary)
• The Karate Kid (Jackie Chan)

Noticias:

• World Cup in South Africa (U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!)
• Mexico’s Bicentennial (¡Viva México!)
• Chilean Miners (¡Chi-chi-chi! ¡Le-le-le!)

Música:

(Really too many to mention, but these are the first three that came to mind)…

Espinoza Paz
Natalia Lafourcade
Crooked Stilo


(I like this video of Espinoza performing on Mun2, because it looks like the host, Yarel, has a crush on him as much as I do.)

I considered listing favorite blogs, but you can already check those out on the Link Love page, (and there’s no güey I’m choosing only three!) …That being said, I want to thank all of you who visit me here at Latinaish.com.

The very best thing about 2010 is the community I’m blessed to be a part of and all the people around the world that I consider amigos para siempre. Gracias por tu amistad – it has more value to me than an entire box of Bubu Lubus.

How about you? What do you consider lo mejor de 2010?

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